Sony has been hit with a record $390,000 fine by the U.K.’s privacy watchdog after hackers posted online millions of Playstation gamers’ passwords and credit card numbers in April 2011.
The U.K. Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO), which described the breach as “one of the most serious” it has dealt with under the Data Protection Act, slapped Sony with the maximum fine. ICO investigators determined the hacks could have been prevented if Sony had kept its network software updated and had better secured customers’ private information.
The hack left consumers wide open to identity theft due to the exposure of names, addresses, e-mail addresses, dates of birth and account passwords.
“If you are responsible for so many payment card details and log-in details then keeping that personal data secure has to be your priority,” said ICO deputy commissioner and director of data protection David Smith in the Information Commissioner’s finding.
“In this case that just didn’t happen, and when the database was targeted — albeit in a determined criminal attack — the security measures in place were simply not good enough … There’s no disguising that this is a business that should have known better. It is a company that trades on its technical expertise, and there’s no doubt in my mind that they had access to both the technical knowledge and the resources to keep this information safe.”
Although it has not been revealed how many Sony customers were impacted, it is thought upward of 100 million users may have been affected.
Sony issued a statement to GameSpot, indicating it will fight the ICO’s ruling.
The statement reads:
“Sony Computer Entertainment Europe (SCEE) strongly disagrees with the ICO’s ruling and is planning an appeal. SCEE notes, however, that the ICO recognizes Sony was the victim of ‘a focused and determined criminal attack,’ that ‘there is no evidence that encrypted payment card details were accessed,’ and that ‘personal data is unlikely to have been used for fraudulent purposes’ following the attack on the PlayStation Network. Criminal attacks on electronic networks are a real and growing aspect of 21st century life and Sony continually works to strengthen our systems, building in multiple layers of defense and working to make our networks safe, secure and resilient. The reliability of our network services and the security of our consumers’ information are of the utmost importance to us, and we are appreciative that our network services are used by even more people around the world today than at the time of the criminal attack.”
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